Driver's EDitorial #19: Get Going With a Michael Jackson movie!
by: Brad Sturdivant
Our Driver’s EDitorial is a weekly column designed to express our opinion on something going on in Hollywood today. Sometimes we whine and complain about something we wish was different, other times we heap praise on the system for getting it right.
I’m surprised we’ve gone almost six months and we haven’t heard news of a studio buying the rights or hiring a screenwriter to pen the King of Pop’s music biography. Richie Valens, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, and other musicians have had music bios made about them because they had interesting stories, loyal fans and were big enough celebrities to draw in a crowd. Michael Jackson not only supersedes them on all accounts, but does so by such a wide margin that it’s hard to compare. Hollywood jumps on this kind of stuff mercilessly and usually without tact, so what’s taking them so long?
When it comes to telling Michael’s story, the studios really have their work cut out for them. Do you remember how horrible those old, made for TV movies that popped up during the 90’s were? They were proof enough that it’s tough to make a movie about Michael Jackson and even tougher to make a movie that’s not shrouded in heresy and speculation. But the true stories about Michael are way more interesting than anything we could make up. Of course, that could be a problem because none of us really know what’s true and what’s not. So that means whoever gets the nod to write the script is going to have to have some ability to investigate and tell an unbiased story. Easier said than done.
And any article about Michael’s life has to touch on his alleged child molesting. I don’t know if he did it or not, but I think the fame and the attention he received at a young age screwed him up and he could never get over it. For him, sleeping in the same bed as a little boy was okay because he wanted a childhood. It’s easy as a bystander to accept that Michael had a skewed reality, but if you’re the little boy’s father, it probably doesn’t make a difference. That’s the hardest part any screenwriter will encounter when writing about Michael. How do you address that without making him seem completely innocent or completely guilty? I think the answer is you focus on his mental issues and what drove him to think/act like he did later in life.
But the biggest challenge with a Michael Jackson biography is finding someone to play Michael. Not just for the physical resemblance, but as witnessed in THIS IS IT, not even professional dancers could keep up with him or match his dancing intensity. That can be glossed over with some tricky editing, but they really need to go the WALK THE LINE route and have the actor sing his songs. That makes it even harder because Michael had such a unique and amazing voice. Oh, and the guy has to be able to act and pull off a variety of emotions and maturities, portraying Michael throughout his life. There’s a reason Michael was so revered; there was only one of him.
I’m still calling for a bio on The Beatles and Bob Dylan, but I think a bio on Michael Jackson would be more successful than any bio before it. Even a film made up of rehearsal footage was insanely successful. If this fell into the hands of the right creative team, it would be incredible. So I guess now the only thing left is to decide who will write it, direct it and star in it…